Friday, December 27, 2013

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

       "No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another."
-Charles Dickens

       As the holiday season comes to a close, I thought I'd take the time to update everyone on my last few months!  I've been busy with classes at High Point University, as well as performing with the HPU Dance Team, giving tours as a University Ambassador, preparing for Alpha Gamma Delta recruitment, and as always, performing duties as Miss Seashore Line.
       After a relaxing Fall Break in Disney World, I got back to the grind right away!  For 2013 "Make A Difference Day," I gathered a few friends to do some good in our community.  We visited a local nursing home and volunteered as manicurists for the day!  It was such a fulfilling way to give back and really make a difference in the lives of residents at the High Point Place Senior Living Facility.  I can't wait to go back and visit my new friends!

Shout out to Gwen, owner of Deluxe Nails in Mullica Hill, for donating nail polish for my nursing home manicure trips in both New Jersey and North Carolina :)

       Being a part of the HPU Dance Team means performing at sporting events as well as taking part in community events around the High Point area.  The week prior to Halloween, HPU hosted local families for a safe trick-or-treat event at one of our Men's Soccer games.  My team and I danced at the game adorned in all types of costume accessories like cat ears, tutus, and more!  The Greek Community of High Point lined the track surrounding our soccer field and handed out candy to all of the adorable Power Rangers, Princesses, and pumpkins who came to do some trick-or-treating in a clean, safe environment.

       My sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, takes pride in our dedication to philanthropy.  For one of our Philanthropic events of the Fall semester, we held a Flag Football Tournament!  Groups from different organizations across campus signed up to face each other in a fun competition to benefit JDRF!  I had a blast supporting my sisters who played in the games, and was able to help set up the fields as well as clean up afterward.  I'm honored to announce that I have since been elected Philanthropy Coordinator of the 2014 Alpha Gamma Delta Executive Council!  I can't wait to help my sisters stay true to our motto, "Live With Purpose."
 We were somehow blessed with a warm day in October for our event!

 The Gam girls cheering on our participants!

My big, Katie, and I at Chapter elections :)

       It came to my attention that November 13th was "World Kindness Day."  Since my 20th birthday was November 15th, I decided to use the time between those special days to complete 20 Acts of Kindness!  I made a list of 20 acts I wanted to perform and frolicked around campus November 13th, 14th, and 15th (my birthday!) completing them.  I LOVED quietly watching people find some of the little notes and gifts I had left around campus.  I handed out lollipops to my classmates, treats to the trolley drivers and security guards, left smarties in the library, bought Starbucks for a few adults visiting campus without a student ID to pay, and so much more!  Here are a few snapshots of the experience...
 Jacey and I expressing what we're thankful for during HPU's "Gratitude Project."

 Leaving water bottles and protein bars with motivational messages on gym equipment!

 Leaving a package of popcorn with the message, "Have a poppin' day" 
in the movie section of the library :)

 Courtney, Lorena, and I visited Wishaven Animal Rehabilitation Center to donate some pet treats.  We met this little guy and heard his inspirational story.  Can't wait to visit again!!

 Returning carts left in the parking lot to their designated corral!

 Left balloons with compliments on random cars in the HPU parking lots!

 Hung "you are beautiful!" signs on mirrors all over campus!

Posing with my completed poster before my 20th Birthday dinner :)

       When I came home for a short Thanksgiving break, I was able to reunite with some of my favorite gals, my Miss New Jersey Little Stars, Brooke and Olivia!  We got together to make some adorable Thanksgiving crafts, then went for a visit at Manorcare to distribute our artwork.  The girls and I love seeing familiar faces at Manorcare and they were wonderful in knocking on the residents' room doors to spread a little cheer.  I become more and more proud of my Little Stars each time I see them.  They have become so confident in their visitation responsibilities.  Their passion, kindness, and comfortability in a sometimes uncomfortable environment is astounding.  Thanks Brooke and Liv for being such awesome Kindness Kids!!
 Our finished product!
They're the sweetest!!
Ready to share the love at Manor Care!

       After Thanksgiving, I traveled back to school to study, study, and do some more studying!  After finals came to a close, it was back to Jersey for some family time and, of course, volunteering!  Before I could do any of those enjoyable things, however, it was time for my dreaded wisdom tooth extraction.  Since I had four impacted teeth to be removed, I unwillingly set aside a week of my winter break for recovery.  Besides a reaction to the anesthesia, it went surprisingly well!  I was eating solid foods on day three and had virtually no pain.  Since I recovered so quickly, I got back in the game much sooner than expected!
       I reunited with Carol, my amazing director, to fill stockings for a Community Outreach group based in Camden.  I was also able to catch up with our beautiful Miss New Jersey's Outstanding Teen, Alyssa, and chat about life post-Outstanding Teen.  She's done such a fabulous job representing our state-I can't wait to see what is in store for her future!

       I was able to really swing into the Christmas spirit when I went to watch Tricia Sloan Dance Center's beautiful version of The Nutcracker.  While I so miss performing in the ballet, it was lovely to catch up with old friends, my Little Stars, and even spend some time with pageant sisters!  Kathryn Nicolle and Lindsey Petrosh, former NJOTs AND former Miss New Jerseys hosted "Clara's Tea" alongside our current Miss New Jersey, Cara!  On top of seeing those lovely ladies and seeing an awesome production, I got to see our official Miss New Jersey photographer, Richard Krauss!  He was photographing the show and it was perfect timing for me to pick up my holiday photo cards.  The previous week I had the pleasure of meeting with Richard and his wife, Fran, for my annual headshot photo shoot--I was able to sneak in a few holiday shots as well. :)
 Never a dull moment when it comes to Photoshoots with Richard :)
Love feeling like a celebrity when Miss Fran does my make-up!!

 Miss Tricia is just stunning! 
 The MAO girls at Clara's Tea Party!
My little stars rocked! So proud of their abilities and their amazing charisma :)

       Keeping in the holiday spirit, I was able to participate in numerous Christmas service opportunities!  I visited Clearview High School and made napkin rings with the Journalism class.  I then donated the cute napkin rings to the Gloucester County "Serv-A-Tray" program, which delivers meals to county residents who are disabled, homebound, or recuperating.  I'm sure the festive crafts made a nice addition to their holiday trays. :)

       I was also able to participate in the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce's "Breakfast with Santa" event.  The breakfast provides holiday cheer for eligible families in our county.  I had the entertaining job of handing gifts to Santa which he then distributed to the children who visited him!  It was so rewarding to volunteer at such an amazing event, I hope to make it part of my own seasonal traditions!
 My duties also included jingling bells for the photographer in order to catch those precious moments with the adorable (and often screaming) kiddies :)
Concetta and I were Santa's helpers...guess I'll need to invest in an elf costume for next year!!

       Later that same day I took part in another holiday event with the Angels of God Clothing Closet organization.  Angels of God set up an awesome party at the Deptford Skating and Fun Center for eligible families.  The kids in attendance also had the chance to collect a few holiday goodies and visit with Santa!  I took on the job of entertaining the kids while they waited in line to see Santa...a job that is more difficult than it sounds ;)  I had an awesome time.  There is nothing better than seeing a child's face light up--especially when you were able to be a small reason for their happiness!!
 Such a fun event!
I got to know all of the kids while they waited in line for Santa and wrote their names on goody bags!

       I was elated to join some of my favorite people at a Shore Family Holiday party!  Catching up with my pageant sisters and directors was much needed.  Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Nicolle for hosting us crazy pageant people ;)
We even got a visit from Santa!

Apparently this is how Michael envisions my hair for evening gown at Miss NJ this year...I guess you'll have to wait until June to see if I took his advice, or if they allow him to walk on stage with me while holding my hair ;)

       On Christmas Eve Eve, I joined my director, Carol, and some of my Tiny, Pre-Teen, and Teen Shore Sisters to sing at Deptford Almonesson Church's Live Nativity!  We braved the winds and rain to add some Christmas carols to their beautiful holiday tradition.  Afterward I was on a mock judging panel for the Teens to prepare for Miss New Jersey's Outstanding Teen which is quickly approaching!  They are such impressive young ladies--I can't wait to find out who will be our next NJOT!!

 Sweet little Ayla :)

 The Seashore Line girls!

Though it's difficult to make out, we sang between Jesus' Birthday cake and the manger :)
The crowd of singers grew as the night went on--we were a 
choir of 6 angels by the end of the Nativity :)

       I hope everyone had a joyous holiday!  This time of year is the perfect reminder of how much there is to be thankful for, and how much we are able to give back to others.  I, myself, am thankful to have spent time both serving my community and relaxing with my family.
 My wonderful family on Christmas Eve :)

The Weick cousins with our beautiful Mom-mom :)

       Next up on my agenda before returning to HPU for the Spring Semester?  I'm super excited to be launching a new program promoting service and kindness with some amazing students.  You'll be able to join us in our New Year's Resolution and share the journey of "scattering kindness" thru many social media outlets. Check out my platform Twitter and Instagram accounts, @KCandVO and 'keepcalmandvolunteeron,' respectively.  Until next year ;) May your days be merry and bright!